“. . . what I know about sinners I know chiefly about me. We did not mean to do the deed, of course. The things we have done wrong seemed, or mostly seemed, small at the time. The word of encouragement withheld, the touch of kindness not given, the visit not made, the trust betrayed, the cutting remark so clever and so cruel, the illicit sexual desire so generously entertained, the angry answer, the surge of resentment at being slighted, the lie we thought would do no harm. It is such a long and tedious list of little things. Surely not too much should be made of it, we thought to ourselves. But now it has come to this. It has come to the cross. . . “
– Richard John Neuhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon.
I was thinking about the horrible, horrible events of Kevin Gosnell’s abortion clinic yesterday. A story that went largely uncovered by the press, likely because of the political intensity of the issue and the national media’s pro-choice bent. But when the news finally did break there was abject horror. There were the pictures of babies murdered by a snip to the back of their necks. Our sins, lying at the foot of the cross.
Of course, there are other babies, far younger, that we do not see, at the foot of the cross. Those slip away everyday by laws celebrated as a victory for choice.
All teaching of Christ drive us to one thing — the renewal of life. All the laws, the Sacraments, the stories, all of Creation drive us there. And life culminates with — and through — Jesus. Jesus, who conquered death and sin. That is the way, the truth and the life. The beginning and the end. This is a story of love for another. A winter turned spring.
We are weak. I am weaker. I think of things like Gosnell and abortion and my role in it — in complacency and in silence, and in my younger days, in support — and am paralyzed in fear. How easy it is to justify.
But there is hope. Progress is slow. It’s a life’s work. I think of St. Therese of Lisieux and how everyone can begin with the little things, by doing everything with love. The word of encourage. The touch of kindness. And this attention to detail, this constant, consistent pursuit and recongition of what is true, will build a moral courage that can move mountains.